Image: Harris Rosen with young girl in Tangelo Park.
The purpose of our human life is to help others as best we can. Research indicates that those who consistently help other people experience less stress, enjoy higher levels of mental health, feel more connected to your spirit, feel more grateful for what you have and less invested in the ‘rat race’ that causes stress for so many of us. Religion begins with an obliging nature. Happiness begins from the moment we do something for others. I cannot see why on earth we are born if not to help others. Okay, there are times when we can’t always do our best, but when we do, it is like a light going on.
I remember a sweet story from Sathya Sai Baba that dealt with this very topic. The story goes like this: A married couple asked him what was the most important piece of advice he could offer. He replied. “To serve. It does not matter what your station is in life, as long as you help others. It does not matter what career you have, what house you live in, large or small, none of these material gifts matter. All that matters is how much you have loved and how much you have shared.”
There are many times when people need our kindness and at other times we need kindness from others. To withdraw kindness from another person is like turning off the light.”
I read in the Dalai Lama’s book – Ancient Wisdom, Modern World, (1999) the following: “On a recent visit to New York, a friend told me that the number of billionaires in America had increased from seventeen just a few years ago to more than 350 today. So clearly the number of rich people in the world is growing. Yet, at the same time, the poor remain poor and in some cases are becoming poorer. This I consider to be completely immoral. It is also potentially a source of problems. Whilst millions do not even have the basic necessities of life – adequate food, shelter, education and medical facilities – the inequity of wealth distribution is a scandal. If we were the case that everyone had sufficient for their needs and more, then perhaps a luxurious lifestyle would be tenable. If that was what the individual really wanted, it would be difficult to argue that they need refrain from exercising their right o live as they see fit. Yet things are not like that. In this one world of ours, there are areas where people throw food away while others – our fellow humans, innocent children among them, are reduced to scavenging among rubbish and starvation.
Thus, although I cannot say that the life of luxury led by the rich is wrong of itself, assuming they are using their own money and have not acquired it dishonestly, I do say that it is unworthy, that it spoils us. Moreover, it strikes me that the lifestyles of the rich are often absurdly and pointlessly complicated. One friend of mine, who stayed with an extremely wealthy family, told me that every time he went swimming, he was handed a bathing robe to wear! This would then be changed for a fresh one each time he used the pool, even if he did so several times in one day. Extraordinary! Ridiculous even. So complicated! It is not as if living like this adds anything to one’s comfort. As human beings we only have one stomach. There is a limit to the amount we can eat. Similarly, we have only eight fingers and two thumbs. We cannot wear a hundred rings. Whatever extra we have is to no purpose in the moment when we are actually wearing a ring. The rest lie useless in their boxes. The appropriate use of wealth, as I explained to the members of one very prosperous Indian Family who came to see me long ago, is found in philanthropic giving. In this particular case, I suggested, since they asked, that spending on education is perhaps of most use. The future of the world is in our children’s hands.Therefore, if we wish to bring about a more compassionate, and fairer society, it is essential that we educate our children to be responsible, caring human beings. When a person is born rich, or acquires wealth by some other means, they have a tremendous opportunity to benefit others. What a waste it is when that opportunity is squandered on self-indulgence.”
Harris Rosen: “Tangelo Park does not have to be an exception, it is possible to help communities all over America. “